The author of the acclaimed Ella Enchanted brings us another middle grade heroine we can cheer for.
In The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre, Peregrine is the Lakti ideal, growing to be the apple of her father, Lord Tove's, eye. In her world, the strong, smart, and ambitious Lakti are the elite, and the lazy, weak, and cowardly Bamarre, are looked down upon. One day, Peregrine gets a surprise visit from a fairy--a surprise, because only the Bamarre are supposed to get such visits. With this visit, Peregrine's life is turned upside down, and she must honestly face the prejudice that exists in her world.
I found this book to be very timely. It's not a theme book that beats the reader over the head with a message, but readers can't help but see a troublesome situation in Peregrine's world, and as most readers I know do, they relate it to their personal situation. We live in a time where the problems of prejudice are more visible than ever because of social media and so forth. I can see this book being a great way to initiate conversations with kids about issues with bigotry. But the book stands up on its own as a great story even without the social lessons within.
Not only does this book have a strong female protagonist, but there are many other girls between its covers. It doesn't suffer from the issue many books have, where there is only a token female character. There is a love interest in the story, but it's realistic and definitely not the focus of the story. Perry stands on her own and solves her problems without either needing help from a guy or needing to prove herself to a guy. This is a really fun and inspiring story about family and friends, standing up against prejudice and oppression, and finding your identity.
Levine has a distinct writing style that makes use of a lot of exclamations, and I did find that this kind of tired me after a while, but really didn't do a lot to decrease my enjoyment of the book. I think The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre is a story both young and young at heart can enjoy, and is something that parents and kids could read together and discuss.
About The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre:
In this compelling and thought-provoking fantasy set in the world of The Two Princesses of Bamarre, Newbery Honor-winning author Gail Carson Levine introduces a spirited heroine who must overcome deeply rooted prejudice—including her own—to heal her broken country.
Peregrine strives to live up to the ideal of her people, the Latki—and to impress her parents: affectionate Lord Tove, who despises only the Bamarre, and stern Lady Klausine. Perry runs the fastest, speaks her mind, and doesn’t give much thought to the castle’s Bamarre servants, whom she knows to be weak and cowardly.
But just as she’s about to join her father on the front lines, she is visited by the fairy Halina, who reveals that Perry isn’t Latki-born. She is Bamarre. The fairy issues a daunting challenge: against the Lakti power, Perry must free her people from tyranny.
Melanie R. Meadors is the author of fantasy stories where heroes don't always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She’s been known to befriend wandering garden gnomes, do battle with metal-eating squirrels, and has been called a superhero on more than one occasion. Her fiction has appeared in Circle Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, and in the anthology Champions of Aetaltis. She's the co-editor of the anthology MECH: Age of Steel and editor of Hath No Fury, and she is a blogger and general b*tch monkey at The Once and Future Podcast.